28th November 2018
CORRUPTION AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONVICTIONS OF CURACAO PRIME MINISTER CONFIRMED
The Daily Herald reported on 28th November that the convictions of the former Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte and his life partner for corruption and money laundering remain in place, according to a ruling by the High Court in the Netherlands. He was accused, amongst other things, of accepting huge sums of money from Italian St. Maarten casino boss meant to persuade him to grant special favours in return.
SOUTH KOREA ASSESSES FINANCIAL SECTOR’S MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING RISKS
Business Korea on 28th November reported that financial authorities had disclosed the outcome of their assessment of domestic financial companies’ risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing. Banks are found to be most vulnerable to money laundering risks among domestic financial institutions. They are followed by securities companies, insurers, mutual financing companies and credit card companies. The report was prepared from March 2017 to August this year by the 12 organisations including the FIU, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Justice.
RUSSIAN HACKERS DUPED US COMPANIES OUT OF TENS OF MILLIONS IN ADVERTISING DOLLARS
NBC News on 28th November reported that the schemes made it appear to advertisers that human beings had clicked on their internet adverts, when in reality it was automated bots doing the clicking. US authorities say that the first scheme, “Methbot”, was launched in 2014, when the Russian nationals — “rented more than 1,900 computer servers located at commercial datacentres in Dallas, Texas, and elsewhere, and used those datacentre computer servers to simulate humans viewing ads on fabricated web pages. That scheme came to a halt in 2016, after a private cybersecurity firm issued a warning about the fraud. However, another more lucrative scheme had started in 2015, the indictment says. The ringleaders made over $29 million, the court papers say. Of those indicted, one was arrested in Malaysia, one in Bulgaria, and one in Estonia, and are awaiting extradition. The others are at large.
DEPUTY PM, MINISTER AND MEP NAMED IN BULGARIA’S CASH-FOR-PASSPORT SCAM
EurActiv on 27th November reported that a whisteblower told EURACTIV, providing a bundle of documents that appeared to confirm the accusation. Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, the former Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva (now foreign minister) and MEP Andrey Kovatchev (from Boyko Borissov’s GERB party) are the most senior people accused of running the scam which had enabled thousands of foreigners to obtain Bulgarian passports for cash.
CIGARETTE SMUGGLING BETWEEN FRANCE AND ALGERIA NO LONGER GOING UNNOTICED
On 27th November, EurActiv reported that France has been the worst hit by illegal tobacco among the countries of the EU, and Algeria is one of its main suppliers. Cigarette smuggling continues to be a troublesome scourge on the EU, with an annual estimated revenue loss of €10 billion. This smuggling is also a source of funding for traffickers and criminal and terrorist groups. It says that there are some 7.6 billion contraband and counterfeit cigarettes in circulation in France, making up 13.1% of total consumption. Algeria is still the point of origin for 26% of all smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes in France. It is said that cigarettes arrive in France by boat or plane in small, but frequent and regular amounts – harder to detect.
EU REGULATION ON THE MUTUAL RECOGNITION OF FREEZING ORDERS AND CONFISCATION ORDERS
On 28th November, the EU published EU Regulation 2018/1805/EU which, is designed to ensure the effective mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders, with the rules on the recognition and execution of those orders established by this legally binding and directly applicable Regulation. It takes effect from 18th and 19th December.
NEW ZEALAND’S EXPENSIVE CIGARETTES ARE MAKING IT THE TARGET OF INTERNATIONAL SMUGGLERS
Newshub on 28th November reported that Customs say New Zealand is being increasingly targeted by international cigarette smuggling syndicates because of the price of a pack of smokes. It seized 1.8 million cigarettes and rubbish bags full of cash in what’s been called the country’s largest-ever tobacco fraud investigation. 11 pallets of Chinese-branded cigarettes, none of which were declared, were smuggled and sold in commercial quantities to different buyers around Auckland. In 2013, a pack of 20 cost $16.10, by 2016 it was $21.50 and now the average price of a pack is $25.23 – an increase of about $9 over 5 years.
FIRST SPORTS BETTING INTEGRITY GROUP LAUNCHED IN US
Reuters on 28th November reported that US sportsbook operators have announced the formation of a new national non-profit organisation to help monitor integrity and fight fraud as the country’s new sports wagering market expands. The Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA) will partner with state and tribal gaming regulators, law enforcement and other stakeholders.
EU COURT ANNULS PREVIOUS SANCTIONS LISTING OF PKK – BUT ORGANISATION REMAINS LISTED
On 27th November, the European Sanctions Blog reported that the EU General Court had annulled the previous listing of the Kurdish PKK group under the EU terrorism sanctions during 2014-2017. This was because of a failure to use or maintain up to date reasons for listing – the PKK having been first listed in 2002. The PKK had previously, in 2008, successfully challenged its 2002 listing. However, earlier this year the EU renewed its current listing of the PKK, and it therefore remains subject to sanctions.
FISHERIES AND FUTURE INTERSTATE CONFLICT
An article in the blog from the Oxford Research Group on 23rd November says that the current status of global fisheries is a serious cause for concern. But, it asks, will states engage in conflict with one another to ensure their continued access to fish? It says that research suggests annual losses of revenues for the global fishing industry could be $10 billion by 2050 due to climate impacts. From history, it says, we also learn that fishery conflicts between states are not uncommon. In fact, many of the militarised post-WW2 conflicts between states have involved fishing quotas and maritime boundaries, such as the Cod Wars playing out between the UK and Iceland during the 1950s and 1970s, or between France and Canada in the 1980s and in 1995 involving Canada and Spain. Tensions have been rising between China and neighbouring countries, as the Chinese fishing fleet travels farther out to fish and recurrently enters into foreign or disputed waters.
UK COURT REJECTS ‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED’ TURKISH EXTRADITION REQUEST
Reuters on 28th November reported that a court has rejected an extradition request from Turkey for exiled businessman Akin Ipek to face terrorism-funding, fraud and other charges, saying he faced a real risk of ill-treatment should he be returned. Ipek, 54, built a multibillion-dollar fortune in Turkey based on gold mining but left the country in 2015 after relations between the government and followers of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen soured and was wanted by the authorities there for alleged involved in the 2016 coup attempt.
CHINA-EUROPE TRUCK SERVICE TO LAUNCH IN JANUARY
Loadstar on 28th November reported that China-Europe rail may be on the rise, but a new option is now open to shippers as the first TIR truck travelled from the Chinese border town of Khorgos, through Kazakhstan and Russia to Europe in just 13 days. The truck arrived in Poland on November 24th, having experienced no disruption or Customs issues in Russia, Belarus or Kazakhstan. The forwarder claims that shipping on this route by truck cuts costs by some 50%, compared with air freight, and with a 10-15 day transit time, it is some 30-50% faster than rail.
MALAYSIA’S ANTI-GRAFT AGENCY TO CHARGE MORE FORMER MINISTERS
Baker McKenzie on 28th November reported that former education minister Mahdzir Khalid is expected to be charged over a solar power project for Sarawak rural schools. Meanwhile, former federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is expected to be brought to court to face charges again, this time involving land sales in Kuala Lumpur.
FRENCH OFFICIAL ‘SUSPECTED OF SPYING FOR NORTH KOREA’
The BBC on 27th November reported that a senior official in the French Senate has been arrested on suspicion of spying for North Korea – and over the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power”. He is also president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association (AAFC), which promotes closer ties with North Korea and supports the reunification of the divided Koreas.
HMRC MONEY LAUNDERING FINES DOUBLE IN A YEAR
A news release on Mondo Visione on 28th November reported that fines total more than £2 million in last 12 months. The average fine for money laundering now more than 7 times what it was 2 years ago. High value dealers and those policed by HMRC for money laundering breaches have seen the value of their fines more than double in the past year.
Table: Money laundering fines in the UK
|Number of fines||1153||901||655|
|Total value of fines||£558,432||£1,182,179||£2,258,657|
|% change in average fine||–||170.91%||162.82%|
12-YEAR BAN FOR DIRECTORS OVER £800,000 OF CONNECTED PAYMENTS
Accountancy Daily on 28th November reported that 2 marketing bosses have been disqualified for total of 12 years after causing their company, White Space Communications Ltd, to pay more than £830,000 to businesses they had connections with, while they also owed over £300,000 to creditors.
PODCAST: BELT AND ROAD CHALLENGES ACROSS CENTRAL ASIA
In the latest TRACE podcast, Alexander Cooley, political science professor at Columbia University and author of Dictators Without Borders, describes the corruption climate across Central Asia.
HOME OFFICE STATEMENT AND FACT SHEET ON MIGRANT SMUGGLING BY SMALL BOATS
On 28th November, the Home Office Blog carried a post saying that there has been a recent upsurge in attempts to reach the UK by small boat and setting out the Home Office response. This includes not just of Border Force vessels, but co-ordination with the French authorities and action against organised crime groups involved.
UK: CUSTOMS, VAT AND EXCISE REGULATIONS – LEAVING THE EU WITH NO DEAL
On 27th November, HMRC published a collection which brings together regulations, explanatory memoranda, and an impact assessment in preparation for day 1, if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.